That seemingly impenetrable barrier, a three-decades old roadblock, has finally been knocked down.
Brentwood High, which has had a number of highly successful teams through the years, landed the first boys basketball state tournament berth in school history Monday night with a hard-fought 60-54 Class AAA sectional victory over Wilson Central.
Before an electric packed house of screaming fans at BHS, junior Andy Schumpert tossed in a game-high 21 points. His performance included a layup on an assist from point guard James McPherson, which gave the Bruins the lead for good at 56-54 with 2:02 left. Schumpert and McPherson then iced it with two free throws each in the final 38 seconds.
At the final buzzer, delirious Bruins players rushed the floor, jumping into a victory pile. Although security was guarding courtside, students eventually broke through, stormed out and celebrated with the players. And coach Dennis King was doused with water.
Asked how he felt just after Brentwood finally clinched its first state tourney berth, King said, "I got to enjoy it all of about 10 seconds, then someone doused me with water. I don't know who it was, but I'll find out when I look at the film.''
Six times previously, Brentwood teams advanced to sectionals only to be turned back one heartbreaking step from state. Monday was their third straight sectional trip. Wilson Central knocked the Bruins out on the same floor last year, 60-52.
The school opened in 1982-83.
"I thought that this team might be the one to break through,'' King said. "We had an outstanding team last year, but it's something that we got to see the same team again this year (Wilson Central in sectionals) and avenge the loss.
"I've been around here for the 30 years, all but four as coach, and I just knew somebody was going to get there, and this team was the one."
Brentwood jumped ahead 9-2 and led by as many as 11 (38-27) on a 3 by Jack Bautista late in the first half.
Wilson Central kept chipping away and finally tied it 54-54 on two free throws by Jacob Williams with 3:43 left. But the Wildcats didn't score again and the Bruins held on, thanks to the Schumpert and McPherson heroics.
Delirious fans carried McPherson around on their shoulders.
"Never,'' he said, when asked if he ever had been carried around after a game. "It felt great. I'm just getting to where I'm soaking it in. On the free throws, I knew I had step up there and make them. Wilson Central is good team, and they really pressured us after the third quarter.''
Added Schumpert: "There have been a lot of great teams here before us. It feels great to be on the one which finally made it, and I'm really happy for coach King, who has put so much of himself into this program.''
McPherson scored eight of his 10 points the first half, while Bautista and Cody Shelton added nine each. Williams scored 17 to lead Central, and Matthew Hall added 12.
The Bruins (27-4) will join their girls counterparts who also qualified for state with a sectional victory Saturday over Mount Juliet. They will find out who they play next week during a pairings meeting Saturday morning in Murfreesboro.
"Hopefully it will be against a weak team whose best player just sprained his ankle," King joked.
In other games:
• Hillsboro held off host Dickson County 49-46 in AAA sectionals and gave Region 6-AAA two representatives in next week boys state tournament.
• Defending state champ Christ Presbyterian Academy (34-2) turned back Spring Hill 58-46, and East Nashville (27-7) won at Cheatham County 59-54 in AA Sectionals as earned berths in the state tournament. Host CPA was led by Jalen Lindsey who had 18 points and 11 rebounds as the Lions' junior class won its 100th game in their three years.